Sinag Maynila Movie Review: TPO

TPO reveals the sad truth about the cycle of domestic abuse, thanks to an insightful script that makes an effort to dissect an under served issue.

Teresa lives with her abusive husband Miguel until she finally decides to leave him, only to face a world that offers no reprieve.

TPO takes on a different look at domestic abuse and shows us that our inept legal system is only one side of the story.

The narrative doesn’t resort to melodrama that features the silent suffering wife. Instead, it explores the different factors that perpetuate the cycle of abuse.

Miguel is is under the thumb of his controlling father, who advises him to use fear and rein in his wife. Teresa, who suffers the brunt of her husband’s anger, finds no consolation from a mother in law who jokes about the situation in an attempt to reassure the battered girl that its not her fault. Her son is just simply angry at the world.

Teresa tried to ask for help, but only to be ignored because her husband’s parents are well known teachers. Eventually thanks to the help of a friend she manages to break free, but only to find dire consequences. With the lack of financial support and an inept legal system who doesn’t bother to dig deeper into the issue, Teresa’s freedom came with a heavy price. Worse, whatever she does here is worthless – its either she saves her life at the expense of her child who will inherit the fate of his father or suffers for the rest of her life and unintentionally tolerate a violent household.

Performances from the cast are great in bringing life to these hapless individuals. Mara Lopez, who joined Cinemalaya’s line-up in K’na the Dreamweaver, has proven to be a capable actress. Oliver Aquino did well in painting Miguel as a man with his own deep seated issues. Miko Laurente held his own against the adults. Of course, the veteran supporting cast are more than reliable.

The movie observes these characters from a distance as the film resembles a documentary about the plight of Teresa. Consequently, this makes for a detached approach wherein we don’t see the details of Teresa’s plight in and out of the court room.

Still, TPO is able to show us a well rounded view of domestic abuse. It is not enough to respond to the situation. Social workers should also take a look at its root cause and examine its impact. This is all the more stressed in the end, where the open-ended future of Teresa’s child (who has been deeply affected by the whole situation and shown a sign of aggression) implies that nobody won.

TPO provides an expansive view of an under served issue. It’s not as simple as a husband who hits his wife. The cycle of abuse is a pattern, perpetuated by different external factors that enable it to persist through generations.

My Rating: 8/10

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